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An entrepreneur sold his design agency to Salesforce after having a psychotic break in his early 30s. He recounts his experience in the toxic world of tech startups a?? and how he made it through.

An entrepreneur sold his design agency to Salesforce after having a psychotic break in his early 30s. He recounts his experience in the toxic world of tech startups a?? and how he made it through.

John Roa.
Lydia Hirt




John Roa, a 36-year-old entrepreneur and the author of "A Practical Way to Get Rich ... And Die Trying," spoke with Business Insider about selling his design consultancy, Akta, to Salesforce after having a psychotic break in his early 30s.




Roa spoke openly about entrepreneurship's toxicity, imposter syndrome, and advice for emerging entrepreneurs who are struggling.




He said he wants others to know they're not alone.




Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


Six years ago, John Roa was on top of the world.Akta, his design-innovation consultancy, was gaining momentum as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US and competing with renowned design agencies. Starbucks, United Airlines, NASA, and other high-profile clients were piling in. Business was good.But Roa was not. In 2014, four years into leading the company, he experienced his first psychotic break, he said. His only memory was waking up three days after arriving at the hospital, when the doctors told him he had dissociative amnesia."I don't recall any of it," Roa, 36, told Business Insider. "I didn't know my own name. I didn't know what city I was in. It was basically my brain just giving up."
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